Cellular networks for mobile devices and apps - Embedded.com

Cellular networks for mobile devices and apps


In recent years, we have seen tremendous growth of mobile devices and applications. The global shipments for smartphones and tablets reached 722M, and 128M, respectively, in 2012. They are predicted to reach 1.52B and 352M by 2017.

In the meantime, mobile application downloads in Apple Store and Google Play have already exceeded 50B and 25B, respectively. In order to support such mobile data devices and applications, 3G/4G cellular network infrastructures play a critical role. Indeed, the mobile data traffic carried by the cellular networks are estimated to grow seven times within the next four years, from 1.6 Terabyte (TB) in 2013 to 11.2TB in 2017.

Specifically, in this paper the focus is on two topics: (1) how to reduce the operational cost by improving energy efficiency of cellular network infrastructure, and (2) to reexamine the architecture and policy practice on data accounting in 3G/4G infrastructures from both robustness and security perspectives.

Both topics complement each other, covering two parts of cellular network infrastructure – radio access networks (i.e., base stations) and core networks.

We identify key problems, use real measurements and traces collected from the operational networks or the mobile devices (if needed) to quantify the impact of the identified issues.

Our work is motivated by the fact that the 3G cellular infrastructure, particularly the base station (BS) networks, consumes about 80% of overall energy in today’s operational networks. Such base station networks incur large energy waste in that their energy consumption is not in proportion to their carried traffic loads.

Our study further shows two root causes. On one hand, the traffic volume is not constant over time. In fact, it exhibits high fluctuations both in time and over space.

On the other hand, each base station consumes a large portion of energy even at zero traffic, due to its supporting system (e.g., cooling) and idle communication overhead.

In this work, we propose GreenBSN, a traffic-driven design to green BS infrastructure. We profile BS traffic, and approximate network-wide energy proportionality using non-load-adaptive BSes. The instrument is to leverage the inherent temporal-spatial traffic dynamics and node deployment heterogeneity, and power off under-utilized BSes under light traffic.

We further show that, our solution can be implemented within the current 3G standards. Our evaluation on four regional 3G networks shows that our standard-compliant, practical solution yields up to 53% energy savings in dense largecities and 23% in sparsely deployed regions.

The key insight is that, traffic dynamics is pervasive both in time and over space in operational 3G/4G networks, and suchdiversity opens a new venue for energy savings in large-scale cellular networks.

To read this external content in full, download the paper from the author archives at the University of California.

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